What mobile apps/computers can and cannot teach kids: why teachers will be physically present forever

IMG_0845During the last two centuries, there were a lot of innovations that have forever and dramatically changed the life of humankind. To name a few: electricity, space travel, computers, modems, the Internet, and, among the latest ones, mobile phones & tablets. It is so exciting to live at this particular time and to be part of the fast-changing world! Here we discuss, what mobile apps/computers can and cannot teach kids: why teachers will be physically present forever. Following this brave new world, the school curriculum, teaching techniques, as well as process of learning, were changed and unavoidably continue being modified and redesigned. The most striking changes in education during the last few years have been connected with mobile applications evolving as an integral part of education. Here is some data: [1], [2] A number of mobile app downloads worldwide: ~ 2.5 billion in 2009, and are expected to reach 269 billion in 2017. In January 2015, education apps were the second-most popular category in the Apple App Store. [2] Based on statistics for K-12 Education, 70% of parents want mobile tech to be used for learning [3]. A study done by Grunwald Associates LLC suggests, “that there is an unmet desire for more learning and educational value in the mobile world, both at home and in school.” [7] Many schools and universities propose an iPad pilot program, for example, Winona State University [8], Earhart Elementary School [9]. It looks inevitable, that mobile apps will be an essential part of school education in a few years and there is a strong belief that mobile apps are going to change just about every corner of the world. How they will influence the education process and how will the role of teachers and students in the classroom change? What will the next generation learning process look like? Will “students learn on their own” without a classroom teacher in a time of new technologies? What new “trends in edtech space” will appear? [11] Will the students’ role in the classroom be changed? Will the teachers, as in-person educators, despite all changes, be in great need, as of today, but their role in the classroom be evolved? [9] There is an ocean of media posts, articles and other publications regarding the future of education. [9], [12] Based on information I read recently, a few years ago, and many years ago, combined with my own teaching experience, my experience as a math tutor, and my experience as mother and grandmother, I developed my opinion about the future of successful education:  more and more students will learn online and go mobile; many new courses will be offered for teaching; students will get plenty of opportunities to develop new skills and abilities that give them a competitive advantage in the global economy (i.e. learning to code, gaining knowledge of operating systems for mobile devices); [13], [14], [15] students could help schools to decrease the cost of IT implementation by organizing tech teams that provide assistance with network connection, downloading apps, writing apps review, etc. [11], [13] but teachers will be needed more and more. 300x150-UK-relationshipsWhy, in my opinion, will teachers not be “obsolete” and “the essential teacher-student learning relationship” [12] will not be lost? It is the widespread expectation that the new technology, including mobile apps, would allow students to learn individually at their own speed, let them better identify their problems but also achieve higher goals. This process should enable a teacher to act in more creative ways, to be more productive and more accessible. On the other hand, the most valuable interaction still comes from face-to-face conversation. I remember my teaching years, and the light of understanding in student’s eyes that is so exciting for a teacher and that appeared when an individual consultation and/or discussion in the classroom clarified an issue or provided special guidance. Also, when a teacher interacts with a group of students, such factors as a competition, brainstorming, and assisting each other could not be delivered by studying alone. No innovative technology will eliminate these processes: teachers simply will be made more effective by technology. There is no doubt that teachers must be effectively prepared to integrate mobile applications into learning and teaching settings. It is not an easy development, but this process is already under way not only in the USA, Australia, Europe but also in Asia and Africa. The challenges to effective integration of mobile learning into teacher education [17] are immense, but there is no other way. We witness this gradual integration, we are part of this process, and it is so interesting, inspiring and exciting. References:
  1. http://www.statista.com/statistics/270291/popular-categories-in-the-app-store/
  2. http://www.statista.com/topics/1002/mobile-app-usage/
  3. http://www.teachthought.com/technology/50-mobile-learning-statistics-for-k-12-education-infographic/
  4. https://meraki.cisco.com/lib/pdf/meraki_whitepaper_ios.pdf
  5. https://www.apple.com/education/it/vpp/
  6. http://www.concordia.ca/it/services/apple-vpp.html
  7. http://www.grunwald.com/pdfs/Grunwald%20Mobile%20Study%20public%20report.pdf (2013)
  8. http://www.winona.edu/it/classroomtablets.asp
  9. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/online-education-do-we-need-teachers-anymore-yes-hadi-partovi?trk=tod-home-art-list-small_3
  10. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8535.2011.01183.x/abstract;jsessionid=DE06D7A9E2542B0E9390CDF8C29AAEDD.f02t02?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false Research trends in mobile & ubiquitous (worldwide) learning.
  11. https://www.teacherswithapps.com/student-tech-teams-101-toolkit-educators/ Student Tech Teams 101: A Toolkit for Educators
  12. http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/openeducation2030/files/2013/05/Booklet-OE-SE-fin-REV3.pdf Open Education 2030
  13. http://thejournal.com/articles/2015/02/17/a-class-full-of-geniuses.aspx Class full of Geniuses
  14. http://code.org/about org® is a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Our vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science.
  15. http://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/109772_en.html Integrating Mobile Applications into Teacher Education (from 2013 to 2017)
  16. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002164/216452E.pdf Mobile learning for teacher
  17. http://www.ifets.info/journals/17_4/2.pdf A Review of Research on Mobile Learning in Teacher Education
About the Author Tat@facebook_3Tatyana Belyavskaya graduated from St. Petersburg State University with an M.S. in statistics. She also earned her Ph.D. in Operations Research from the same university. Tatyana taught programming, statistics and numerical methods in Telecommunications University, St. Petersburg, Russia for more than 20 years. She moved with her family to the USA in 1991. Over the next 20 years, Tatyana was a software engineer, a Web designer, a database administrator, and an information systems analyst. Prompted by their grandkids’ math questions and problems, Tatyana and her husband, a software developer, decided to reach more children and help them master basic math skills. They founded the company Bel Math Apps and published a few tablet, phone and desktop applications for arithmetic practice. Tatyana’s hobby is the history of the world and the human civilization.
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